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Making readers mad

We occasionally get letters from readers angry about something they disagree with on the opinion pages. It always astounds me.

For starters, folks in the Mid-Columbia hold conflicting opinions on virtually every issue under the sun. Even if we tried, we couldn’t publish an opinion page that meshed with every reader’s beliefs.

Here’s what we heard from a reader on Friday:

“In todays paper, 4 cartoons bashing Bush, and making him out to be an idiot, for wanting to drill for oil. What is your solution? You are obviously a full member of the liberal press in America. Again, what is your solution. This is not Seattle. Get a clue. I would like to talk to one of your editorial people. I'll assume the Herald is in favor of $8 a gallon gas!! Do you want to stay in business?? Not all of your readers are stupid!”

Here’s my response:

Far from considering our readers to be stupid, we count on them to make up their own minds about the issues of the day and to welcome access to a variety of views on the opinion pages — including those with which they disagree — to help them form their opinions and test the validity of their beliefs.

Last week, we ran a Jonah Goldberg column making a compelling case for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. It was accompanied by an Eric Allie cartoon that showed a donkey — symbol of the Democratic Party — causing gas prices to inflate because their policies are blocking new supplies of oil.

Because something appears on our opinion pages doesn't mean we agree with it. In fact, no one could possibly agree with everything that runs, since we choose a wide range of opinions, which frequently conflict with one another. I don't know what readers in Seattle want but I think Herald readers don't want to limit themselves to ideas they already agree with.

The Herald editorial board hasn't taken a position on offshore drilling. Our suggestions for keeping energy costs in check have included stopping this nonsense about removing the Snake River dams and creating a national policy that encourages construction of new nuclear plants.

If you don't like the opinions expressed on today's Voices page — keep reading, you're bound to find something you like.

What I didn’t say, but should have added — A newspaper’s opinion section that doesn’t make you mad some of the time isn’t doing its job.